Is Wisconsin’s health care that good?

I was really tempted to title this post “Feingold’s Follies,” but decided we better discuss it before I decide for sure.

A friend of mine wrote Feingold, and here’s the reply:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding health care. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

The Senate is currently drafting legislation on health care reform. I look forward to Congress finally taking up this issue. I have included a fact sheet with answers to commonly asked questions regarding current health care proposals. I hope you find this information helpful.

It is far past time for Congress to ensure all Americans have guaranteed, affordable, high-quality health care. Too many Americans are forced to make basic decisions regarding their health based on cost rather than on medical reasons; too many delay seeking treatment and do not receive preventive care, which results in more costly, or even fatal, consequences down the line. Our country spends $5,670 per capita annually on health care – which is twice as much as any other industrialized nation – and 15.6 percent of our gross domestic product. Despite this spending, we are not healthier than those other countries, and we still have more than 46 million Americans – including eight million children – who do not have health insurance, and countless others who are underinsured.

As you know, these high and rising costs take a tremendous toll on American families and businesses. While inflation grew 9.7 percent, and wage growth was 12.3 percent, premiums for family insurance coverage rose 59 percent from 2000-2004 and show no sign of stabilizing. As a result, many employers are shifting much of their health care costs to employees, no longer providing health benefits, or eliminating positions.

Reforming our health care system is also an economic imperative. Americans spend an unsustainable $2.2 trillion on health care each year. From ensuring the solvency of our entitlement programs to helping households across the country balance their checkbooks, reforming health care is necessary to getting health spending under control. Health reform will likely require significant initial investments, but, if done right, it can also yield significant savings in the near future. These initial investments can be at least partially offset by addressing current overpayments, waste, and fraud in the system, and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent in the most effective and efficient manner. For example, by adopting the Wisconsin model for health care delivery, taxpayers will save billions of dollars.

Again, thank you for contacting me. While we may not always agree, I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Reading this, my first response was that Feingold’s pretty good at spewing the party line. Nothing new. But then I saw, “For example, by adopting the Wisconsin model for health care delivery, taxpayers will save billions of dollars.” This confused me. Wasn’t it just a few years ago Wisconsin health care prices were rising almost a third faster than the rest of the country?

And doesn’t BadgerCare have a backlog that’s preventing service?

The overwhelming demand for BadgerCare Plus Core, the new Medicaid-funded insurance program for low-income childless adults, has the state struggling to process the large number of applications filed in the program’s first two months.

The lag is frustrating applicants, community health workers and health officials alike.

“I feel like it’s $60 down the drain,” said Cassandra Fier, 23, of the $60 application fee she paid June 15. She has not heard anything since. “If the state’s going to be slow, they need to be sending something to individuals letting them know what’s going on.”

From June 15 to Aug. 7, the state Department of Health Services received 37,211 applications for the Core program, of which only 5,000 were processed. Under program guidelines, the state has 30 days to process an application and, if approved, coverage is to begin on the following 1st or 15th of the month.

“Two months in, we’re continuing to strive to improve the efficiency and speed with which we process applications,” said Karen Timberlake, secretary of the department.

Yoo hoo, Mr. Feingold? That party line is tied to a boulder that could land you in the middle of a deep lake without a way to cut it loose. I suppose it’s your choice as to how you go down.

Comments

  1. That’s a nice email. This is the one he sent me.

    —————————————————-

    “Dear Mr. Rodriguez,

    Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding the cost of health care reform. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

    It is far past time for Congress to ensure all Americans have guaranteed, affordable, high-quality health care. Too many Americans are forced to make basic decisions regarding their health based on cost rather than on medical reasons; too many delay seeking treatment and do not receive preventive care, which results in more costly, or even fatal, consequences down the line. Our country spends $5,670 per capita annually on health care – which is twice as much as any other industrialized nation – and 15.6 percent of our gross domestic product. Despite this spending, we are not healthier than those other countries, and we still have more than 46 million Americans – including eight million children – who do not have health insurance, and countless others who are underinsured.

    As you know, these high and rising costs take a tremendous toll on American families and businesses. While inflation grew 9.7 percent, and wage growth was 12.3 percent, premiums for family insurance coverage rose 59 percent from 2000-2004 and show no sign of stabilizing. As a result, many employers are shifting much of their health care costs to employees, no longer providing health benefits, or eliminating positions.

    The full Senate is expected to consider health care reform legislation soon. I look forward to Congress finally taking up this issue. I agree with you that health care reform needs to take a fiscally responsible approach.

    Reforming our health care system is an economic imperative. Americans spend an unsustainable $2.2 trillion on health care each year. From ensuring the solvency of our entitlement programs to helping households across the country balance their checkbooks, reforming health care is necessary to getting health spending under control. Health reform will likely require significant initial investments, but, if done right, it can also yield significant savings in the near future. These initial investments can be at least partially offset by addressing current overpayments, waste, and fraud in the system, and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent in the most effective and efficient manner. For example, by adopting the Wisconsin model for health care delivery, taxpayers will save billions of dollars.

    One of the main reasons I first ran for the U.S. Senate was to restore fiscal responsibility to the federal budget. Throughout my career in the Senate, I have worked to bring Wisconsin’s historic tradition of fiscal responsibility to Congress, an environment where wasteful spending too often dominates the budget process.

    Again, thank you for contacting me. I will continue working to improve access to health care and make health care more affordable for the people of Wisconsin. You can learn more about my work on health care reform at my website at http://feingold.senate.gov/healthreform.html. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.”

  2. The Lorax says:

    I think what he was getting at was Wisconsin has the highest coverage of any state other than Massachusetts, which has a Universal Mandate.

  3. Speaking of Massachusetts, CNN is comparing Romney-care to Obama-care minus public option. Any validity to that?

  4. Randy, a link for you. If you wait out the usual stuff from both parties, the end gets interesting.

    http://www.frc.org/frcinthenews/20aug2009/tony-perkins-on-cnns-american-morning

  5. The Lorax says:

    I thought MA had a public option…?

  6. Beats me. They said not.

  7. Randy in Richmond says:

    Here is a Ratings List of the state’s healthcare services. I have no idea how accurate it is but it should be a good indicator.
    The top ten:

    1. Hawaii
    2. Iowa
    3. New Hampshire
    4. Vermont
    5. Maine
    6. Rhode Island
    7. Connecticut
    8. Massachusetts
    9. Wisconsin
    10.South Dakota

    For the full list:
    http://www.webmd.com/news/20070613/how-states-rank-on-health-care

  8. The Lorax says:

    Hm, well I was speaking more to health insurance coverage, but this looks to be pretty good though too.

    Also, a while back I read a study about how Hawaiians are on average more healthy because of the weather, their diet, and their genes. In a lot of ways, Hawaii is really like another country. And according to another recent poll on Obama’s birthplace, 6% of Americans don’t think Hawaii is a state…

  9. Interesting that Feinie kinda likes the 10th Amendment for SOME things…

    and how he conveeeeeeeeeeeeniently forgets about tort-lawyers, mandates, and the costs of developing the most sophisticated drugs and medical devices in the world, bar none….all of which add to the costs.

    Not to mention the costs of subsidizing illegals AND the Fed-to-State mandates for bureaucratic BS.